Call to arms from the top of the world

FOR Berry Rotarian Ken Hutt, the ascent to one of the world’s highest peaks wasn’t enough – he also planned to jump off it, all for polio.

PREPARE: Sherpa guides help Frank de Graaf prepare for his acclimatisation climb at base camp.

PREPARE: Sherpa guides help Frank de Graaf prepare for his acclimatisation climb at base camp.

The 54-year-old joined a small group of intrepid mountaineers who climbed the world’s sixth highest mountain, Cho Oyu in Tibet (8201 metres) with their main goal to help eradicate polio through further education and publicity.

Due to poor weather, Mr Hutt had to stop 200 metres short of the summit, where he made his jump.

On his way down he had a rocky landing among loose rubble on a glacier, but did not suffer any major injuries.

Friend and fellow Rotarian Frank de Graaf spent two-and-a-half weeks at Base Camp, directly below Mount Everest, just after the devastating avalanche that killed 12 guides. 

Frank de Graaf shows how close their base camp was to the avalanche site.

“The main point Ken wanted to make clear is polio was almost eradicated and now it has spread again and that scares the hell out of us,” he said.

“Ken wanted to bring polio back in to the fore of news and he did that by jumping off one of the tallest mountains in the world.

“It’s so important to get rid of it.”

Mr de Graaf joined Mr Hutt for the acclimatisation walk.

“It was the day after the avalanche,” he said.

“We were told that normally Base Camp is a hive of activity, but that wasn’t the case when we were there.

“The only movement was helicopters coming back and forward.

“Those people who were there were quiet and sombre … it was the effect all those deaths had on them.”

Mr de Graaf said even his acclimatisation walk was a daunting task.

“These mountaineers put their bodies through hell,” he said.

“It’s not for the faint hearted.

“Ken hoped to make the summit and then paraglide off it, sailing over ice cliffs in freezing temperatures to Base Camp three kilometres below.”

It’s believed to have been done only once before.

Mr Hutt is back in Australia.

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